Always at dusk, the same tearless experience,
The same dragging of feet up the same well-worn path
To the same well-worn rock;
The same crimson or gold dropping away of the sun
The same tints, – rose, saffron, violet, lavender, grey
Meeting, mingling, mixing mistily;
Before me the same blue black cedar rising jaggedly to
Over it, the same slow unlidding of twin stars,
Two eyes, unfathomable, soul-searing,
Watching, watching, watching me;
The same two eyes that draw me forth, against my will
dusk after dusk;
The same two eyes that keep me sitting late into the
night, chin on knees
Keep me there lonely, rigid, tearless, numbly
The eyes of my Regret.
Angelina Weld Grimke was a poet to 173 poems, and out of these 31 were published. Grimke was an African American woman, which resulted in some of her poems not being published. Along with this, her sexuality played a part. A lot of her poems had to do with life and death. Along with this, some other poem themes included nature, justice, black pride, along with other various themes.
“The Eyes Of My Regret” consists of many dashes, commas, and semicolons. The word “same” is repeated thoroughly throughout this poem. An example of this is “The same two eyes that keep me sitting late into the night, chin on knees” (14-15). and “To the same well-worn rock; The same crimson or gold dropping away of the sun”(3-4). This word is used in repetition and also symbolizes repetition by describing something that is not changing in this poem. The word “eyes” is also repeated several times. This word is even included in the very last line of the poem, “The eyes of my Regret” (18). This is showing the importance of the word “eyes” As well as the importance of the title to this poem and insinuating a deeper interpretation. This poem also consists of alliteration multiple times throughout this poem. An example of these are, “Meeting, mingling, mixing mistily;” (6) and “Watching, watching, watching me;” (11). This is showing importance and bringing attention to these lines specifically, which Grimke used this literary technique frequently in this poem specifically.
Women of the Harlem Renaissance goes deeper into the meaning of this poem, and the aspects of Grimke’s life and how they affect the outcome of this poem. The Women of the Harlem Renaissance goes into how the word “same,” plays a huge role in this poem. “Using repetition of the word “same”, Grimke is emphasizing the idea that regret looks the same for everyone.” (Women of the Harlem Renaissance 1919). Along with this, the article states, “The repetition of “same” also creates the tone and idea that the speaker is in a rut because of their constant regret. Grimke uses colorful diction in lines like “The same tints, – rose, saffron, violet, lavender, grey” and “Before me the same blue black cedar rising jaggedly to a point”. Which is continuing to show the importance of literary devices and how they work towards Grimke’s poem as a whole.
Grimke explores different ideas and meanings by using her life and literary devices in her poems. Punctuation and wording defines the way Grimke writes as well as portrays herself. In “The Eyes Of My Regret” specifically, repetition is very prominent, as well as the way Grimke uses her words and portrays them throughout. Alliteration is also an element Grimke uses to make specific lines prominent. Grimke is able to use literary devices to tell a story through her own words, in the most powerful and potential way.
Further Readings and Bibliography:
Paige Closson . “The Eyes of My Regret – Women of the Harlem Renaissance.” Google Sites. (1919) David A. Hirsch. Hedric’s. “Speaking Silences in Angelina Weld Grimke’s `The Closing Door’ and `Blackness’.” African American Review, vol. 26, no. 3, p. 459. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/3041918. (1992) Rachel Nolan. “Uplift, Radicalism, and Performance: Angelina Weld Grimké’s Rachel at the Myrtilla Miner Normal School.” Legacy (07484321), vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 1–24. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5250/legacy.35.1.0001. (Jan. 2018) Megan M. Peabody. “The Reluctant Madonna: Mothers on the Margins in the Works of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Willa Cather, and Angelina Weld Grimke.” Dissertation Abstracts International, vol. 75, no. 4, U of Nebraska, LincolnProQuest. EBSCOhost. (Oct. 2014) Shanterica. “The Eyes of My Regret.” The Eyes of My Regret. (Feb. 2010) Lorna Raven Wheeler. “The Queer Collaboration: Angelina Weld Grimké and the Birth Control Movement.” LGBTQ Literature, edited by Robert C. Evans, Salem Press; Grey House Publishing, pp. 179–192. EBSCOhost. (2015)